Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Natural Qualities of the Oyster

While nattering nabobs of negativism like myself worry about the bioaccumulation of prescription drugs in marine organisms, prattling poltroons of positivism like George May see the chance of a lifetime:

An Australian oyster farmer has hit upon a technique he believes has created the ultimate aphrodisiac -- feeding his shellfish the drug Viagra. George May said the natural qualities of the oyster, known for arousing sexual desire, combined with the best modern pharmaceutical equivalent to create a potentially multi-million dollar market.
PZ Myers suggests feeding these oysters to rhinoceri, to make their horns more potent. As it happens, rhino horn is not actually used as an aphrodisiac. Still, the basic idea is sound: Eating the penis of a tiger that was fed on the gallbladders of bears that were fed on oysters that were fed on Viagra would probably turn the average man into something out of Beardsley’s Lysistrata.

There are more exciting possibilities, though. Given that food is increasingly being accepted as a drug-delivery system, it makes excellent sense to market drug-laden shellfish as a dietary supplement. It’s natural for consumers to be wary of food that’s “contaminated” with drugs, which is why it's far more constructive to refer to shellfish laced with anti-depressants as “mood enhancing.”

By the same token, caffeinated fish could be marketed as a regional delicacy in the Northwest; it’d be a heart-healthy alternative to the caffeinated doughnut. As for Viagra, the siting of shellfish farming operations near retirement communities could add considerable value to an already lucrative commodity.

All of which goes to show how prejudicial, question-begging terms like “pollutant” can prevent people from recognizing and taking advantage of valuable opportunities.

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